Kepa Arrizabalaga made two saves in Chelsea’s 3-1 victory over Brighton on Monday night, which means his save percentage on the young season is .667. That already puts him well ahead of last year’s shambolic .545, which was almost a full tenth less than the next worst number in the league, Jordan Pickford’s .634.
Obviously, these numbers all suffer from sample size and out-of-context issues, especially this season’s infinitesimally small data set, and making two saves out of three is still not a very good average. Only four regular Premier League starting goalkeepers had save percentages below that number last season: Kepa, Pickford, Tim Krul (.656), and Ben Foster (.663).
More glaringly however, the one goal Kepa let in was not exactly a howitzer on the scale of Reece James’ thunderbolt. Leandro Trossard’s shot wasn’t nowhere near as powerful, even if it was quite accurate and did take a semi-awkward bounce off the turf — still, it seemed to go through or under Kepa’s outstretched arm. Not exactly a good look, and not exactly a confidence-inducing moment.
At least he dived?
Fortunately, Chelsea recovered from that blunder, which gave head coach Frank Lampard the opportunity to put a spin on things afterwards, and try to look for positives in Kepa’s performance. Was it the flailing Caballero-esque fist on a corner that we’re supposed to be happy about here, Frank?
“I’m very happy with Kepa. I think with the shot I’m not sure if he could have done better but I saw a bit more confidence in how he was playing. I’m happy with him. Kepa is here, he’s our keeper and I’m happy with him.”
Confidence is certainly an issue, and if Kepa and the team can use this win to build some despite the conceded goal, that’s all for the better.
But it’s hard to be happy, even for those of us who don’t want to go all nuclear on the poor lad like some pundits (not to mention Twitter) love to do.
Fortunately, help is on the way, even if Lampard could only bring himself to hint strongly at Édouard Mendy arriving soon (hopefully).
“[No news] at the moment, no. There’s obviously some weeks to go until the end of the window. We’ve got a big squad now so we have to manage that and look at how we move forward in terms of getting the right level of competition within the squad so no news on that one at the moment...”
“If we are bringing in competition it’ll be competition, that’s the nature of Chelsea. That goes throughout the squad [but] we’ll see.”
-Frank Lampard; source: Sky via Metro
Obviously, Kepa’s here to stay, at least for now. Perhaps time out of the limelight will help him, though the pressure of the narrative may be impossible to overcome at this point.
Let’s hope Mendy’s the real deal.